George Russell praised for ‘stamping his authority’ against Lewis Hamilton

With four races remaining of 2022, George Russell sits 27 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton in the Drivers' Championship.

1996 Formula 1 World Champion Damon Hill has sung the praises of Mercedes newbie George Russell, for not being “crushed” by superior team-mate Lewis Hamilton, unlike former Silver Arrows drivers.

Going into 2022, one thing that wasn’t expected was that Russell would immediately be taking the fight to Hamilton, let alone beat him; however, that very thing has happened.

Excluding the season opener where Hamilton claimed third and Russell fourth, the former Williams driver went on a seven-race streak where he finished above his seven-time World Champion team-mate.

Russell was consistently the closest challenger to Red Bull and Ferrari on both Saturdays and Sundays, which has seen the Brit claim seven podium finishes so far this season.

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Staggeringly, despite Hamilton having 103 pole positions to his name in his F1 career, Russell is the only Mercedes driver to have claimed a pole this season, which occurred at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The tables have turned, though, since the Canadian Grand Prix, where Hamilton has turned up the heat considerably in the second half of the season.

Since Montreal, Hamilton has beaten Russell in seven of the last 10 races; however, the 37-year-old has claimed less podiums this season, with his tally for 2022 currently sitting at six.

With four races remaining, Russell’s 27-point lead over Hamilton could evaporate rapidly, especially given that this weekend’s venue is one of Hamilton’s most successful.

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This weekend’s United States Grand Prix has been won six times by the 103-time GP winner, with five of those wins having come at this weekend’s host, the Circuit of the Americas.

Despite the potential of Hamilton overtaking Russell in the standings, though, Hill has been very impressed by what the young Brit has brought to the table this season.

“George Russell has come in, and he’s come into this very difficult situation,” Hill told the F1 Nation podcast.

“It really is putting your head in the lion’s mouth. He’s absolutely stamped his authority and credentials on this team and also as a viable contender and a viable teammate to Lewis Hamilton.

“There are not many people that have managed not to be crushed by that relationship. And Lewis has had some bad luck this year. Maybe he wasn’t all there at the start of the season for good reasons, but he’s coming back.”

Since joining Mercedes in 2013, Hamilton has only ended the year behind a team-mate on one occasion, with that having happened in 2016, due to Nico Rosberg claiming his sole title.

It is a ridiculous record that Hamilton has been the top Mercedes for eight out of the nine seasons he’s spent with the Germans, but that record is something Russell is on the verge of ruining.

Hill recognises that Hamilton is “definitely creeping” closer to Russell, in what looks set to be a fascinating end of year battle.

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“When Lewis has started to be more motivated, which he seems to be this latter half of the season, sniffing the opportunities of better results, I think George is starting to find out quite what a competitor Lewis is,” Hill continued.

“His shine, although he’s ahead on points, I think that Lewis is definitely creeping and recovering those points gradually over the last few races of the season.

“So he needs to double down a little bit, and his first season with this team has been absolutely fantastic. Outstanding, and he’s shown what a quality driver he is – definitely got championship potential.”